The General - Day 1, Part 1
The room was ablaze, burning fabric raining from the ceiling as a dark figure advanced, flames reflected by the metallic blade of his sword. Behind him the door jumped, attacked from the outside by a group whose voices were growing increasingly alarmed. Their horror, however, was nothing compared to that of the woman trapped inside with her would be assassin, his eyes gleaming cruelly through the slits of his dark mask.
"You will stop and drop your weapon."
Heavy boots stepped over the shards of glass marring the carpeted floor, snapping the largest of them. Even laced with the Force, words had no effect on him.
"You will stop and drop your weapon!"
He raised it instead.
Of all the times Leia had been close to death, she was sure this was the closest ever. She was alone, with nowhere to run, and unarmed. Of course, the one time she did not have a weapon close to her was the time something like this happened.
Just my luck.
She tried to avoid the strike, but even if she constantly forgot her age, her body did not. The blade fell as she was backing away, too slow to entirely avoid it. The point hit her cheek, sliding in a diagonal arc over the arm she had raised to try and protect herself. The hilt came next, striking her with such force that it threw her to the ground.
I am not dying here.
The door jumped again as another man's voice joined the group on the other side. Recognizing it, even in this situation, was comforting—Poe. Poe had arrived, which meant that even if Finn hadn't been outside before, he was now. They were always together.
"How does no one have a detonator?!" Poe shouted furiously.
The flaming wardrobe on the far wall lost its precarious balance, collapsing inwards with a whine and then to the floor with a crash. Sparks were thrust into the air by the impact. Her assailant jumped, distracted by the sound of the crash, and Leia seized her opportunity at his momentary distraction.
She had never been formally trained in the Force and the most physical uses of it had never been where she excelled naturally. Luke had tried to teach her something as simple as moving a stone once, but to no avail. Even so, she had listened to him, memorizing everything he had taught her in case it became useful. Maybe it was for that reason that she expected him to come to her rescue now, to manifest from her memory of pleasant summer days spent listening to his instructions, face serious and voice sure, to aid her in the present.
And a memory of instruction did rise in her mind's eye, then. Only, the one doing the teaching wasn't her brother, but a six year old boy with a roguish smile that made him look just like a dark haired miniature of Han.
"It's right there. You just have to grab it," she heard him saying, pointing at something on the other side of the burning room and rolling his eyes when he looked at her again. "Come on, Mom, you're always like 'Ben, you can do anything as long as you try' and then Ben is the one doing everything because apparently you can't."
It was like he was there, with her among the flames. Only he wasn't and he hadn't been for the longest time. The words, that memory, she knew what it was about: a flour sack perched on the top of the kitchen cabinets. A flour sack that Ben himself had put there and refused to fetch unless she tried first.
"It's really easy; you grab it and swing. Well, don't swing, that will make it go away from you. Grab it and pull it with your mind. If you focus, it will come." He had then stopped at her side, dark eyes intent on their target. "I know you can do it, Mom. I'll catch if it falls."
Only she couldn't and he hadn't. The sack had fallen, hitting her shoulder, then his head, and exploded in a huge wave of white dust. They had stared in shock at the disaster until they had looked at each other, covered in white from head to toe, and collapsed onto the floor laughing.
I lost him. He's not here. He's not coming back.
Even so, she did as her memory of him instructed, reaching for the Force and grabbing the first piece of burning furniture she could. The moment she swung it, the chair hit her assailant square in the back of the head, sending the sword flying out of his hands.
It did little else to stop him, but it didn't matter. It had worked well enough. Worst case scenario, she could keep him at bay until Finn, Poe, and the soldiers on the other side of the door broke through. She reached out again, feeling for something heavier as a smaller blade was slid off her attacker's belt. In a moment, he was over her, one hand reaching for her hair. She bit her lip, tasting the blood gushing out of the wound on her face. The huge collapsed wardrobe was rising, turning—
I know you can do it, Mom.
Before she could take aim, the door exploded and, with it, a wave of blaster fire filled the room. The man released her and Leia threw herself on the floor, covering her head for protection. Finn's voice rose above the gunfire as all but one weapon ceased firing.
"Oi, girl, girl! That's complete overkill! Stop! I said stop!"
Poe was helping her up, dragging her away from the burning room and into the corridor as Finn wrestled a blaster out of the hands of a young female soldier, a blue skinned Twi-lek.
"Bring the body over here," he ordered, grabbing the girl by the jacket and pulling her out of the burning room. "By the Force, Allya, stop that! You can't kill him anymore than you already did!"
Leia braced herself against the corridor wall, breathing heavily as Poe grasped her shoulders, his voice wrought with concern.
"Are you alright?"
Leia made an affirmative gesture with her head, her attention going from the pilot's face to the group now dragging the corpse of her attacker through the giant scorched hole that had previously been her door.
"Show me his face."
The Twi-lek got herself away from Finn and dropped to her knees. The moment she pulled the mask away to reveal a round bearded face, silence fell over the group.
"I know him," Poe whispered, right next to her. If his voice had been horrified before, it was nothing to how it sounded now. "He works in communications."
I know. This isn't good.
She turned to Finn, looking him dead in the eyes.
"Cut all transmissions. We're evacuating."